Kansas City's Isaac Rivera has had a season to remember, and he extended his incredible campaign with a great race Saturday in Wisconsin to join elite company. The Lincoln College Prep senior has been masterful all autumn and accomplished what most Missouri high school cross country runners dream of. He qualified for a national meet.
Rivera was 2nd at the Forest Park XC Festival in September behind eventual NXN national qualifier Dylon Nalley of Illinois. He claimed the Gans Creek Classic Gold race to avenge his season-opening runner-up finish to Platte County's Andrew Johnson. He followed by winning the Chile Pepper Festival in Arkansas. Earlier this month he won the Class 4 state title, and just missed the Gans Creek course record by a couple of seconds with a 14:54. A week later, he placed 17th at the NXR Midwest meet for honorable mention all-region honors.
On Saturday, he toed the line with just over 100 other boys at the Foot Locker Cross Country Midwest Regional between Racine and Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Midwest meet is one of four regional meets across the country, along with Northeast, South, and Wes meets. The top 10 boys and girls at each meet advance to the national meet. Just like he did in Terre Haute at the NXR Midwest meet, Rivera put himself in position early to earn a national championship berth.
Rivera was in 4th at
the mile in 4:55, as the top 10 finishers would earn a trip to nationals and the
chance to race at San Diego's Balboa Park two weeks later. At two miles, Rivera
was in 2nd, as the top 3 all hit the 2-mile mark in 9:46.
In Wisconsin, Rivera was able to hold his place and he traversed the final mile. He ran down the homestretch in a qualifying position. Wearing a recent Team Kenya jersey and arm sleeves to keep warm in the cold conditions where temperatures began in the 30-degree range to start the day, Rivera looked back to confirm his position, pounded his chest, and pointed to the sky before crossing the finish.
River placed 4th in 15:06.6 on the Wayne E. Dannehl National Cross Country Course on the University of Wisconsin-Parkside campus. A course that has tons of history. It's hosted the Foot Locker meet since 1984, as well as 25 NAIA national championships, numerous NCAA Division II regional meets, and four NCAA DII national meets. It no doubt has become one that Rivera will never forget.
Rivera earned a medal for his performance as well as one for a top 5 team finish as he led young men from Missouri to a 4th place team finish among the states.
The 4th place finish was among all comers from Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Americans from overseas military installations.
Rivera announced his college decision a day or two before the race. Rivera is headed to Iowa State to compete for the Cyclones at the next level.
Rivera becomes one of less than 15 Show-Me State boys to qualify for the national meet that's been held annually since 1979 except for the Covid-19 canceled 2020 meet. Rivera joins the likes of Missouri All-Time Greats like Chris Zinn, Joe Falcon, Joe Kirby, Jon Hatley, Matt Tegenkamp, and Jason Sandfort, among others.